6. The Godfather (1972)

Best movie endings - The Godfather (1972)

Widely considered one of the greatest movies ever made, The Godfather‘s inclusion on this list should hardly be surprising. It chronicles the power struggles of the organized crime world, focusing in particular on the Corleone crime family. It begins when Don Vito Corleone’s youngest son Michael returns from the war, and becomes increasingly entrenched within the organization.

Despite spending much of the film resisting his role within the family, Michael eventually assumes control from his aging father. The film ends with Vito dying of a heart attack, and Michael fully embracing his role at the head of the family. After lying to his wife Kay to deny his involvement in the murder of his treacherous brother-in-law, Kay watches in silence as his lieutenants pay reverence to him, announcing him “Don Corleone”.

Part of what makes The Godfather‘s final scene so incredible is the weight of even its smallest moments. Michael’s lie to Kay signifies his choice as to what kind of man he wishes to be, and his accepting the mantle of Don Corleone cements his fall from grace. Finally, the door closing on Kay as she silently watches on demonstrates that she has no real place in his life, and that Michael is no longer the man he was. It’s a powerful ending to a powerful film, and that’s what makes it great.